Christmas Tales

If you’re like me, there’s just something about Christmas which puts the bounce in your step.  A goofy grin on the face.  The P in your pep.  Right? And while we invest time and (far too much) money in search of that perfect gift, I doubt anyone can contest the significance of the non tangible either.  Yes, there are times spent with crazy family members that we’d rather not remember quite that vividly but hey, for the most part, there are many moments to be cherished.

Have you noticed how they tend to revolve around people and traditions?

The way my Dad sings Joy To The World with an exaggerated country and western twang, for instance.  How collectively (my mum, my brother, myself), we’d create a new crib each year. From scratch. One year it was an oriental Madonna and child complete with red fans and pussy willows, the next year was a Middle Eastern holy family.  I also recall how after midnight mass, we’d converge at this late night hawker stall and have (what we called) supper. Steaming hot broth with slices of fresh Red Snapper mixed with julienne of Ginger and Sour Plum, and rice. Then we’d rush home to open pressies 🙂 as a pre-teen, it always made me feel so grown-up, being allowed to stay up past 2, 3 in the morning.

Now, my original intent was to share my memories, and mine alone.  However, as this piece developed, I was privileged to talk to several people who revealed their private memories to me,  and, in turn, I feel incredibly blessed to share them with you now. Is it a long post? Yes, but I truly hope you enjoy these insights into their lives. I certainly did.

Corina Ratsavong

Say hello to 18 year old Corina from California whose family is spread all over the state and would love to be able to spend Christmas with all of them (I hear you, girl, I hear you). She had this to share with me, “My fondest Christmas memory was when i was about 12 or 13. My parents had us sit in the living room next to our tree and told us we could open one present 2 days before Christmas. We were so excited but that wasn’t all, they then surprised us with a trip to Disneyland and told us we were leaving the next morning! That was one Christmas I will never forget.” Ok, that was a serious AWWWWW moment.


My friend Jessica calls NYC home but her family is originally from Colombia. We met at the IFB (Independent Fashion Bloggers) Conference two years ago and have kept in touch since. We were talking about Christmas and, in response to my question about which part, if there was one, she disliked most, her reply was, “Since I’m married to an amazing Italian-American man from New Orleans, I now spend the Holidays with his family there. And although I couldn’t love spending Christmas and New Year’s Day in that magical city more, I do miss spending it with my side of the family too but I’m happy to say that my NYC family will be coming to NOLA for a big multi-cultural, blended Holiday season soon!”


I’ve yet to meet Michelle in person but I can’t use sufficient adjectives to describe what an amazing woman she is. Therefore, when it came to crafting this story, naturally, I had to include her memory of a Christmas dish present on the table every 25th December, “My family has a tradition of making hot pot for Christmas. It’s a wonderful way to bring everyone together as we all cook our chosen ingredients in a communal pot of broth at the center of the table. It starts almost like a fondue – each person dipping their little basket of goodies in the boiling broth. The result is a full-flavored, savory broth to which we add the remaining ingredients and save for the next day.”


One of the proven wonders of the web is its ability to transcend geographical boundaries, which is how 22 year old graphic designer Jess and I met. She’s from my surrogate home of Singapore, and we both know a little about how stifling the heat can get in that part of the world. So it came as no surprise that when I asked Jess where her dream place would be to celebrate Christmas, she said, “You’d probably say that I’m boring but nonetheless, I would still want to visit England and gather with some of my friends over there! It’s been ages since I last saw them. And I’d take the opportunity to go around and meet new people too.”


Hannah is one of the coolest young women I know. Barely in her twenties, she’s a successful entrepreneur who has had her own business since she was 16 (I want to be her when I grow up). We share a love for Baked Christmas Ham as well as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”, and we both believe in fairy tales. Her fave Christmas tradition? “Every year since I was born, my dad reads my brother and I The Night Before Christmas before we go to sleep on Christmas Eve. I could probably recite it forwards and backwards at this point but it’s definitely the one Christmas tradition that I look forward to every year.” Bring out the Kleenex.


Hey hey, it’s Adiel. A lovely new mother who is, quite honestly, one of the nicest, most down-to-earth women I’ve gotten to know on Instagram. Originally from Utah, I asked what her favourite part of Christmas was and (mashed spuds aside), true to form, she said, “The hustle and bustle. The thing one most frequently hears complaints about is one of the best parts of the season for me. I love everyone rushing around with the mission to find the perfect gift for their loved one. Everything is decorated, and so festive, and the whole season is just one celebration after another.”


When I first met Emily, I was struck by two things. One, her height (the woman is tall) and her headpiece (this lovely poufy concoction was such a traffic-stopper). I continue to be impressed by her creative genius in designing statement jewellery that’s a mesh of feminine meets whimsy with a touch of rock n roll, and I couldn’t be more pleased that she took time off from planning her wedding to share her fondest Christmas memory, “Going to our Christmas Eve service at the church I grew up in.  At the end of the service they turn off all the lights and we sing carols while holding candles.  It’s so magical and makes me feel like a kid again.”


My story would be incomplete without featuring my baby girl, Eve. My sometimes-angsty-often-hormonal-and-always-sassy-but-lovable teenage daughter who loves snow, colder climates and thinks Houston weather is much too bipolar. Who hates waiting to open pressies because she just wants to attack and rip the wrapping paper to shreds (she did that last night, I promise). Her fave parts of Christmas? “Decorating the tree and winter break. Winter break means no school which means more sleep. I also love it when my family and I decorate the outside of our house for Christmas. The multicolored lights that wrap around our trees and our balcony look like something from a fairy tale.”


And my man. The one who has filled my life and my heart with so much peace and serenity for close to 13 years now. Being the renaissance man he is, his response to my question on which part of Christmas was his favourite, “The fact that it forces me to sit down, once a year (years ago, I would’ve said put down the pen, today I need to say forgo the keyboard), and reflect about where we are; join my family and enjoy everybody’s smile.  The time we spend together during Christmas is not the same as the normal dinners, where everybody is in a hurry to get up and go do home work, or something else.  It’s a time without anything at the other end, so it allows us to truly be together.” Well said, my love.

How has your Christmas been? Did you continue with existing traditions or make new memories? Or both? Either way, I hope it’s been a wondrous day for you and yours. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Love, Sheela


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